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Back from the Brink: 1000 Days at Number 11
 
 

Back from the Brink: 1000 Days at Number 11 [Kindle Edition]

Alistair Darling
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)

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Review

...one heck of a good read. --Guardian

...a balanced, thoughtful , sober account of arguably the greatest crisis of the 21st Century... --Mail on Sunday

[Alistair Darling] writes compellingly about the market meltdown and ensuing recession, spicing the narrative with a droll wit and acidic observations about the arrogant and stupid bank chiefs. If this story has been told before, it is still informative to have the scary view from the edge of the precipice as Britain teeters on the brink of a complete collapse of its banks. --Observer

Product Description

In the late summer of 2007, shares of Northern Rock went into free-fall, causing a run on the bank - the first in over 150 years. Northern Rock proved to be only the first. Twelve months later, as the world was engulfed in the worst banking crisis for more than a century, one of its largest banks, RBS, came within hours of collapse.

Back from the Brink tells the gripping story of Alistair Darling's one thousand days in Number 11 Downing Street. As Chancellor, he had to avert the collapse of RBS hours before the cash machines would have ceased to function; at the eleventh hour, he stopped Barclays from acquiring Lehman Brothers in order to protect UK taxpayers; he used anti-terror legislation to stop Icelandic banks from withdrawing funds from Britain. From crisis talks in Washington, to dramatic meetings with the titans of international banking, to dealing with the massive political and economic fallout in the UK, Darling places the reader in the rooms where the destinies of millions weighed heavily on the shoulders of a few. His book is also a candid account of life in the Downing Street pressure cooker and his relationship with Gordon Brown during the last years of New Labour.

Back from the Brink is a vivid and immediate depiction of the British government's handling of an unprecedented global financial catastrophe. Alistair Darling's knowledge and understanding provide a unique perspective on the events that rocked international capitalism. It is also a vital historical document.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
120 of 121 people found the following review helpful
By K. Petersen VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Were you to have asked me, prior to reading this book, who was my favourite political biography, I would have replied, Chris Mullin. The reason for that choice was based upon the fact that here was a man who could laugh at himself, as well as others. Mullin has no pomposity and the same can be said of Alistair Darling. The advantage which Darling holds over Mullin is that he held a senior government position (Chancellor of the Exchequer) during a significant historical era (the financial crash of 2008).

It is refreshing to read a political biography in which the main character was not the only person who realised, the exact situation, from day one, and how it should be handled. Alistair Darling is generous with his praise and quick to acknowledge the input of his colleagues, even when they are not bosom buddies.

Reading this book made me realise just how serious the banking crisis had been. One of the great problems with life today, when news is to hand twenty-four hours a day, is that a news programme needs sensation. Everything becomes the most serious crisis that man has ever faced and, naturally, the listener becomes blasé. Darling's book is written in a much more modest style and so, when he paints a picture of near collapse, it is so much more chilling. The section dealing with the banks is more gripping than any financial thriller that one may have read. Darling is honest enough to admit that nobody, himself included, really knew how to deal with events and leads us through the path that he, and Gordon Brown, took to reaching an effective course of action.

Darling is also of great interest when dealing with the Labour Party leadership. He served at close quarters with both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read 5 Oct 2011
Format:Hardcover
I've always voted Conservative and have a very low opinion of Labour politicians in general,but must admit to always having regarded Alistair Darling as a thoughtful and conscientious man. His book reinforces that opinion. The period of time this book covers will be talked about by historians for years to come. This book gives a fascinating insight into what went on during this time from a unique insider's view. It is very well written. Technical issues and concepts (eg. moral hazard) are explained for the layman yet without ever appearing to talk down to the reader. The details regarding Gordon Brown's behaviour are a bonus - highlighting how disfunctional that government was and how unsuitable GB was for the top job. Darling emerges with dignity and kudos from these most difficult circumstances.
Maybe a four and a half stars rating is deserved for this book - I can't bring myself to give five stars to any Labour politician when virtually all his collegues deserve a very long spell in opposition!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An open and frank account 30 Oct 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Alistair Darling provides a straightforward and readable digest of his time at number 11 in which he bares all about his experience of working with a difficult, indecisive and paranoid Gordon Brown. Darling comes across as a sober, if sometimes dull, politician whose heart appears to be in the right place and who is keen to do the right thing not just for his party but for people in general. He sets the record staight too about the inheritance he left behind and how Labour have failed to portray how well they dealt with the financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath. A damn good read with much less of the hubris in evidence that you usually have to put up with from political memoirs.
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69 of 75 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A view from someone on the inside 8 Sep 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a view of the financial meltdown from a man right at the very heart of it. There are good books that pull together facts from interviews and other sources (I recommend Too Big to Fail: Inside the Battle to Save Wall Street thoroughly), but this view from someone on the inside was what compelled me to read.

Much has been in the media of the relationship with Gordon Brown, and the criticisms Darling has for his boss, but the book contains much more than that. Darling is both frustrated and filled with contempt when the bankers can't quite grasp the situation they are in and the lengths the Government have to go try and clean up their mess. He is lucid about the stress of the situation that he is put under, from the lack of sleep to the strains of dealing with the media and his own people. And yes, he is candid about Gordon Brown's leadership - particularly about the strain of the "election that never was".

Don't get me wrong - I don't particularly like the way this has come out. Couldn't he have said something at the time? Done something different? Had more backbone? I don't know. Suffice to repeat my old Grandad's phrase - "you make your bed, you lie in it". Despite that, I found it to be a good read - I'm not usually into books from politicians but the writing style is good and it flows well.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
By Red on Black TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
It was obvious at the time and now we have the copious personal reflections of former Chancellor Alastair Darling in his very readable memoir "Back from the Brink: 1,000 Days at Number 11" confirming that Gordon Brown supported him in the same way that a rope supports a hanging man. Darling was a mainstay of all the new Labour cabinets from 1997 and yet would never be viewed by the Stalinist apparatchiks around Brown such as Ed Balls, Charlie Whelan and Damien McBride as "on message". Indeed the brooding Prime Minister wanted Balls to have his job despite the fact that in the wider Labour Party, Browns protege was about as popular as a rat sandwich. As it stands the resignation of James Purnell and the "Coup that never happened" during the summer of 2009 against Brown effectively saved Darlings place in Number 11 and led the Prime Minister in a typically grudging lack of enthusiasm to tell Darling "Ok you can stay".

Quite why Darling wanted to stay is a mystery. The constant interference by Balls and Brown was one thing but the great economic forces were signalling the darkest clouds as the world economy collapsed around Lehman Bothers and on Darling's "watch". The British Economy was hit by a succession of crisis starting with Northern Rock in 2007, the bailouts of irresponsible bankers, a deep recession and yet four years later still seems more fragile than ever. We learn that Darling was key in ensuring that the Barclays bail out of Lehman's didn't happen not least with the fears that even more bad debt contagion be brought into our system. We also learn Darling intense frustrations with the Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King who he describes as `amazingly stubborn and exasperating".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the read.
Well written; a good account of life in No 11, and giving an insight into relationships between politicians in the forefront of British politics at the time. Read more
Published 1 month ago by janie glasgow
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Oh dear...
Published 1 month ago by Warwick Mason
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Monotone commentary about the 2008 financial crisis - took a humdrum subject and injected more boredom into it.
Published 1 month ago by Nick911
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Book in very good condition, I would recommend it to everyone interested in politics and economics.
Published 2 months ago by kavanda Goncalves
5.0 out of 5 stars Simon
Very good an enjoyable read:-) liked the time line of events provided at the end of the book. Did not agree with it all..
Published 2 months ago by Simon Skinner
5.0 out of 5 stars funny, definitely worth a read
Fascinating! A real insight into the events that shook the world from someone at the very heart of it. Analytical, witty, funny, definitely worth a read!
Published 2 months ago by Nilavra M.
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading
Excellent insight into what happened during the banking crash and how disaster was averted. Mr Darling went up in my estimation after reading this book.
Published 2 months ago by Ed Robertson
4.0 out of 5 stars It's an excellent, and chilling
I hadn't ever thought I would read an account of financial negotiations, but this was accessible and enjoyable as well as being informative. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Rosina Buckland
3.0 out of 5 stars Alistair Darling. Lots of detail, not very colourful.
Alistair Darling is often claimed to be soporific. Having read about half of the book so far, he comes across as just laid back and personality issues that would spook lesser... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Interesting viewpoint
Published 4 months ago by R. M. Fraser
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